Rather than tell you everything that’s happened so far, we thought we’d handpick some of the key moments that have shaped VCC Live into the contact center software business we know today.
1. The success with fax
Remember the good old days of fax? Well, helping companies get the most out of one of the oldest forms of electronic communication is how VCC Live first made its mark.
We went by the name of eWorldCom back then. Szabolcs Tóth and Tamás Jalsovszky – VCC Live’s current CEO and CTO respectively – founded the company.
They initially wanted to make moves in VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol), but this was the early 2000s and the technology isn’t what it is today. So, their first venture was in the similarly-named field of FoIP (Fax Over Internet Protocol).
At the time, FoIP was a real game changer as it surpassed traditional fax machines that communicated over analog phone lines. It was faster, cheaper and more reliable than its non-digital predecessor.
Szabolcs and Tamás developed a solution called iFax. Users could scan a document and send it to any fax machine via the internet. However, the innovations didn’t stop there. Customers wanted to send 1000s of outbound faxes every month. So, the founders went back to the drawing board, and, in 2004, launched iFax Broadcast.
Users could simply upload a contact database and mass send faxes to a plethora of recipients in just a few clicks. What’s more, the software also included templates and personalization tools that provided even greater value to users.
iFax Broadcast was a big success and generated a lot of revenue for the business. However, Szabolcs and Tamás were well aware that fax had already peaked as a communication technology. So, rather than continue to develop the solution, the founders turned their attention to the phone and the call center market.
2. The pivot to call centers
The founders decided to reinvest their earnings from their fax-focused business into new Private Branch Exchange (PBX) systems for call center businesses.
By this time – the mid 2000s – PBX systems were a well-established technology for call centers. Since its inception in the 1970s, PBX had moved from an analog to a digital technology and call center agents around the world were using phone systems via desktop computers.
After the digitalization of PBX, the next big thing for the system was the use of VoiP which allowed users to make calls via the internet. This significantly reduces the cost of long-distance calls and also provides greater flexibility of how and where calls are routed.
At this time, many companies were already using PBX systems for VoIP – but dedicated IP PBX systems that are specifically designed to work with VoIP technology – weren’t a common product on the market.
The industry was dominated by big players – the likes of Genesys and Avaya – and traditional wired telephone systems were still in use in most call centers. They were also notoriously expensive.
This was the right moment for Szabolcs and Tamás to disrupt the market with a new IP PBX solution. They designed their system and even developed a product called iPhone (no, not that one) for handling IP calls.
The company was small which naturally meant the the founders had to take on a lot more than just solution design. They would deliver the systems to client sites in a VW Caddy van and install the setup themselves.
It was also an early testament to the commitment of customization that VCC Live offers today; as the deployment of each new solution was made to fit the client’s own capacity depending on their respective server sizes.
The business began to grow and continuous feedback from clients helped the founders shape the solution more and more. It wasn’t all easy going, though. As common with new tech solutions, the system had a few bugs to overcome – most notably a glitch that would connect an agent’s outbound call to two different customers at the same time! (a novel way to double agent productivity, perhaps?).
It was time to find new ways of growing the business commercially. Many potential clients saw the company as too small to partner with. One said they wouldn’t contract with them until they had reached over 10,000 active user call minutes per month – a far cry from the millions that VCC’s cloud contact center solution handles today.
3. The subscription business model
The company continued down the VoIP road for a few years. The client base was growing and a key attraction was that the solution was far more cost effective than what competitors could offer.
However, it was becoming more and more obvious to the founders that the business model needed to change.
Like many other companies providing call center solutions in the late 2000s, pricing was offered at an upfront cost with maintenance and upgrades paid for separately. For the founders, this offered no recurring revenue to build the business in the long term.
The solution: subscription-based pricing.
The practice was around at the time – with companies like Salesforce, Netflix and Amazon Prime being the notable trailblazers – but it wasn’t being applied in the contact center industry.
A bold decision was made and the company switched to a subscription-based model. And not everyone thought it was a good idea – especially some market experts. It also caused significant friction with clients’ IT departments. They were almost always the guardians of contact center solutions being approved and implemented within their companies. However, with more flexible pricing now available, the decision-making power could also belong to other business units, such as sales and customer support.
There was also more flexibility to be had. The ease of procurement and implementation meant that clients could start with as few as 10 agents to first test out the solution on a smaller scale. This low level of deployment was completely unheard of in the contact center industry.
In 2010, the company rebranded itself to Virtual Call Center.
It was an exciting time to see the company grow and develop, but also a time of some sorrow.
The founders needed to place all of their focus on the contact center business, which left little room for other services – such as iFax Broadcast – the solution that had started it all. The service had to eventually be cut and there was little time to mourn. The client base was growing quickly and the path to today’s VCC Live was becoming clearer.
4. The clients that grew with us
A business is nothing without its clients. It’s not just about the revenue, but also the shared experiences, learnings, and collaboration that make a company successful.
We now work with more than 400 clients in over 50 different countries, but there are a few that were with us for many years and influenced the company in many different ways.
One example is UPC Hungary – a telecommunications company that we’ve partnered with since 2012.
For over a decade, we’ve helped them to continuously scale their operations and take its contact center performance to new heights. The company was eventually acquired by Vodafone and today they represent one of the largest brand names in our client base. They also became one of the earliest adopters of our over-the-phone payment solution VCC Live Pay, transforming how the telecom leader handled overdue customer payments.
Another significant case is Ferratum. A microloan provider that eventually became a leading fintech (now known as Multitude SE).
Our partnership – which began in 2013 – eventually saw the client use VCC Live across 18 different countries. This propelled us out of our native Hungary into supporting operations all over Europe and as far away as Australia and New Zealand.
In 2015, we continued to add brand power to our client base with Decathlon.
VCC Live provided Decathlon’s Hungary branch with its first-ever contact center solution. After some success, the retail leader referred our solution to Decathlon Austria. We now help the company handle 1000s of calls per month covering a customer base of almost one million people. Experiences such as this have helped us to develop customer call handling features – such as ACD and IVR – tools that are now used everyday by Decathlon and many others.
These are just a handful of clients that have shaped us. Partnerships that span a number of years are a rarity in the tech industry, but are absolutely fundamental in how we define our product, its features, and the company as a whole.
It’s why “customer-first” has long been our most prominent value, led us to create a dedicated Customer Advisory Board (CAB), and, ultimately, helped us grow to be recognized as one of the best among even the market’s biggest players.
5. The big investment
In 2020, VCC Live received an investment of $2.4 million. Perhaps a modest sum in the modern global tech market, but, nonetheless, a recognition of what’s been achieved so far and a show of confidence in where we’re headed.
This investment – along with a strong and steady flow of recurring client revenue – has enabled us to accelerate our product’s development. It has given us a bigger platform for making the customer’s wants and needs a reality. A feature-filled and omnichannel cloud contact center software with still a lot more to come.
In the last couple of years alone, we’ve developed and released a string of new features to further enhance our contact center software. Salesforce for VCC Live, an innovative campaign manager tool, and an extensive chat app integration, to name just a few examples.
As for our infrastructure, we’ve grown our global data center presence from North America to South East Asia to enhance performance and reliability, while also opening up new possibilities for clients all over the world.
Investment also allowed VCC Live to ramp up its headcount across critical areas and bring total employee numbers to almost 100 people. The hiring of system engineers, developers, and customer success managers have been imperative to the company’s continued growth. And, of course, it’s only fair to give them sleek Budapest-based office space to feel a sense of pride in their workplace (the fourth office we’ve moved to so far due to growing staff numbers!).
The tech world is piled high with stories of staggering successes and billionaire entrepreneurs. Our story may not be as dramatic by comparison, but it’s one we’re incredibly proud to share. The founders, Szabolcs and Tamás, who, by their own admission, were just a couple of young, naive engineers who never actually intended to build a global business.
But, here they are, 20 years later. Backed by an acclaimed product, a loyal and happy client base, and a highly talented group of people behind them.
Here’s to the next chapter!
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An omnichannel platform stacked with intelligent features, VCC Live’s call center software is your tool for managing your inbound and outbound campaigns.